Historic Sites and Buildings
Tuckahoe, situated along the James River, was the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson for 7 years and the place where he obtained his elementary education. The mansion, outbuildings, and surrounding gardens and lands constitute an outstanding example of a southern colonial plantation.
The land on which Tuckahoe stands was patented in 1695 by William Randolph. His son Thomas inherited the plantation and built the north wing of the mansion about 1712. Sometime between 1730 and 1745, William Randolph II enlarged the residence to its present proportions. When Randolph died in 1745, Peter Jefferson moved his family, including 2-year-old Thomas, from Shadwell to Tuckahoe to fulfill a promise Peter had made to Randolph, his wife's cousin, to act as guardian of his son, Thomas Mann Randolph. In 1752 the Jeffersons returned to Shadwell.
Tuckahoe is an outstanding and rare example of an H-shaped structure of early Georgian style in the Colonies. It is a large, two-story, frame structure lined with brick nogging and exterior weatherboarded walls, except for the two solid brick ends of the south wing. Two long gabled wings are connected by a broad central block. Tall slender chimneys accentuate the narrow gable ends and the marked verticality of the structure, which is further enhanced by the high brick foundations. The chimneys in the frame ends of the north wing project, but those in the south brick ends are flush with the walls. The second-floor level is marked by a wooden belt course and the roofline by a modillioned cornice.
The central doorways on the north and south sides have low porches with square posts supporting gable roofs. The south porch is approached by a long flight of stone steps, splayed but lacking a balustrade; the north porch is near ground level. The doors in the center block, on the east and west elevations, are sheltered by pedimented hoods. All four paneled exterior doors, one in each wing and two in the central block, are original, as are also the weatherboarding and sash.
On the first floor of each of the wings are two rooms, divided by a center cross hall. The north wing contains two parlors; the south, a dining room and "children's" room. The central connecting block contains one large room, or salon. The second floor repeats the plan of the first floor except that, of the original five bedrooms, the one in the central block has been modernized and subdivided into several rooms.
The interior decoration and trim, of the finest workmanship, is remarkably unaltered and in fine condition. All the walls are covered with fine wood paneling. The original wide floorboards remain throughout the structure. The hall stairways, especially the north one, with elaborately turned and spiraled balusters, are outstanding examples of the early Georgian style. Mantels throughout the house date from the 19th century, but the marble fireplace facing in the west bedroom of the north wing is original.
East of the mansion is a small, one-room, brick, one-story schoolhouse, possibly the one Jefferson attended, as well as fine boxwood gardens. A short distance west of the main house is a plantation street, containing a complex of buildings of uncertain date, all in excellent condition and little altered. They include the plantation office, kitchen, storehouse, slave quarters, smokehouse, and barn.
Since Tuckahoe passed out of the possession of the Randolph family in 1830, a succession of individuals have owned it. It is still a private residence, not accessible to the public.
Last Updated: 22-Jan-2004